People close to jailed Sheriff Robert Arnold continue to be removed from the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office.
Arnold's cousin, Deputy James Vanderveer, was fired Wednesday, department spokeswoman Lisa Marchesoni confirmed. She declined to say why he was terminated from his job.
But Vanderveer has been a lightning rod for controversy almost since he took a position with the sheriff's office. At one point he was under investigation by the TBI for pepper-spraying a confined prisoner who had been unruly.
The dismissal comes on the heels of Deputy Chief Keith Lowery's decision to suspend Warrants Maj. Terry McBurney, who had been on leave since being indicted by a federal grand jury in connection with a misleading citizenship application. Also gone is Chief Administrative Deputy Joe Russell, a co-defendant with Arnold and John Vanderveer, the fired deputy's father, in a 14-count federal indictment.
Arnold hired Vanderveer as a jailer in 2011, and he resigned Feb. 7, 2012 shortly before being arrested on a DUI charge. He was rehired, and in December 2013 he put inmate Demario Harris in a restraint chair and sprayed him with pepper spray, an incident that led Harris to file a federal lawsuit against Vanderveer, another jailer and Arnold. The case was settled with Harris receiving $68,151.
Vanderveer is the son of John and Judy Vanderveer, who co-owned JailCigs, LLC, of Marietta, Ga., with Russell, according to Georgia state records. Their company had an exclusive deal to sell e-cigarettes to inmates at the county jail for $12.95 each, an alleged scheme that led to the indictment of Arnold, Russell and John Vanderveer.
They face a Feb. 7 trial on 14 counts of federal corruption charges.
The younger Vanderveer also was involved in a Labor Day incident at Arnold's home, which led to revocation of the sheriff's bond. Arnold has been in a Kentucky county jail since a magistrate found he broke his bond conditions and couldn't be trusted to abide any conditions.
Vanderveer, who was living at Arnold's home at the time, went there that night after the sheriff and his wife, Megan Arnold, got into an altercation, according to court testimony. The sheriff admitted in federal court he consumed a 12-pack of beer at a pool party that day and took a sleeping pill that evening.
In addition to Vanderveer, Sgt. Todd Hammond went to the home while on duty. Hammond, who has since resigned from the sheriff's office, told TBI investigators he didn't see anything at the house that made him believe Arnold and his wife had been involved in a domestic disturbance. Vanderveer refused to talk to TBI agents.
Sam Stockard may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.